To help you unlock your inner feral, we’ve have compiled an easy way for you to get out and about on multi-day bushwalks and do it properly, by following the 5 P’s of bushwalking.
It was the second night of our four day walk through the Guy Fawkes wilderness and I was on the brink of a full blown, heebie jeebie induced panic attack of the kind that can only be brought on by the peculiar feeling of being watched in the Australian bush. It was my first ever multi-day bushwalk and although I was with an experienced and epic crew of mates who did all the organising and grunt work, I still wasn’t prepared for the simple fact that we had camped right next to a bunyip hole and I had forgotten my knife.
For the uninitiated amongst you, bunyips inhabit streams, waterholes and billabongs and are ferocious night hunters. Many Indigenous people across varied Aboriginal countries around Australia feared them and were wary of being around water at night.
So as the firelight faded and night wallowed up out of the waterhole, I wound myself tightly into my crackly tarp thinking at least I’de hear the bastard if it attempted any midnight marauding. My last thoughts as I drifted off to sleep were occupied by how totally unprepared and vulnerable (ok, and irrational) I was under the vastness of the milky way.
As can be expected, nothing happened except I fell in love with going bush with minimal gear and spending a few days under the stars, exploring waterways and feeling like a goddamn bushranger. To help you unlock your inner feral, we’ve have compiled an easy way to prepare to get you out and about on multi-day bushwalks.
1. Plan Everything
It goes without saying, but this is the most important part of any trip. Poor planning can lead to some pretty serious situations.
Mark out your route beforehand on a topographic map of the area you will be walking through and pay attention to the type of terrain you will be traversing. You will also need to know how to read said map (cheers Nat Geo) and it’s wise to brush up on compass skills. The linked articles should help point you in the right direction. (ha!)
Have a water plan – You will drink more on the trail than you would at home and you also need to take into account water for cooking. Will you be able to refill? Will you need purifying tablets? Do you need to carry your entire water ration with you or can you get away with relying on streams and springs.
Meal plan if you are going longer than 2 days – You don’t want to run out of food or spend a week eating the same thing every meal. The type of food you need will depend on the type of walk you’re doing. I learnt the hard way that overpacking is just as bad as underpacking. I could have walked the river three times with the amount and type of food I brought.
2. Prepare your gear and yo’self
Check that you have the right equipment for what you’re planning to do. How heavy is your tent? Can you get away with a tarp and some rope? Inspect all your gear for damage and make repairs where needed. You never know when your life may depend on it so prepare for the worst case scenario.
Invest in a quality sleeping mat and sleeping bag. Sleep is an incredibly important part of multi-day bushwalks as poor decision making is exacerbated by lack of sleep and lack of food. Que next point. Prepare your meals in advance. Buy a dehydrator so you can make your own camp food. Don’t rely on oats and muesli bars. Research recipies, be inventive, try new foods.
3. Pack (and pack again)
I packed 4 times before I did my first overnighter. (actually, my husband finally packed for me after he sprung me trying to stuff in comfort items like extra undies, towel and pillow).
Get familiar with your setup. It’s generally best to put heavy items like your tent and sleeping bag at the bottom as you will only access them each evening and it’s better for your back. Next, your spare clothes and food. Save the pockets for items that you may need whilst walking such as knife, snacks, first aid etc. You don’t want to be unpacking your whole bag on your lunch breaks to access your snacks.
4. Protect the environment and yo’self
I like to put the environment first because ultimately, the things we do can either destroy it or preserve it. Protect the environment by practicing Leave No Trace principles. For the lazy amongst you, that includes some of the following…
Bury human waste 50m from all watercourses to a depth of 15cm. Also, go somewhere inconspicuous, please. If your canyoning, you get to take your little friend with you so bring zip lock bags and scoop that poop.
Clean your plates etc AWAY from water and don’t use soaps. Use sand or grass to wipe off grease and then rinse with water from a container.
Protect yourself by letting people know where you are going, for how long and when you expect to be back.
Don’t take on more than you can handle. Attempting to lose your ‘christmas pudding’ and ‘get fit while you go’ mentality usually means a shit time for all involved when it becomes blatantly obvious that you can’t keep up.
5. Packout everything
You carried it in, you definitely carry it out. There is never any excuse for leaving anything behind. If you come across evidence of shit people, be the better human and take it with you as well.